Nottingham Forest ease relegation fears with huge win at Sheff Utd

Callum Hudson-Odoi scored twice as Nottingham Forest secured a monumental 3-1 victory over already-relegated Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.

Ben Brereton Diaz’s first-half penalty had increased the pressure on Nuno Espirito Santo’s side in their battle to preserve their Premier League status (17), but two superb interventions from Hudson-Odoi ensured they remain in the driving seat and in control of their top-flight destiny.

The former Chelsea winger curled in a superb equaliser before the break (27) and put the game to bed with his second (65) after Ryan Yates’ first Premier League goal had blasted Forest in front (51).

Ben Brereton Diaz celebrates converting his spot-kick
Ben Brereton Diaz celebrates converting his spot-kick

With Luton Town missing the chance to move above them following their 1-1 draw at home to Everton on Friday Night Football, it means Forest – with a far superior goal difference – can virtually secure their safety with another victory over Chelsea next weekend.

Sheffield United had Anel Ahmedhodzic sent off for a second bookable offence in the sixth minute of stoppage time after a flailing arm in a challenge with Nicolas Dominguez.

The Blades remain bottom on 16 points and have now conceded 100 goals this season, joining Swindon Town as the only two clubs to achieve that unwanted statistic in Premier League history – and they still have two more games to set the record outright.

Ryan Yates scored his first Premier League goal
Ryan Yates scored his first Premier League goal

Player ratings

Sheff Utd: Foderingham (5), Trusty (5), Ahmedhodzic (5), Robinson (6), Bogle (6), Hamer (6), Arblaster (7), Brooks (6), Osborn (6), Brereton (7), Archer (6).

Subs: Vinicius Souza (n/a), McAtee (6).

Nottingham Forest: Sels (7), Montiel (5), Boly (8), Murillo (8), Aina (7), Yates (7), Danilo (7), Elanga (6), Gibbs-White (7), Hudson-Odoi (9), Wood (7).

Subs: Awoniyi (n/a), Toffolo (n/a), Dominguez (n/a), Niakhate (6).

Player of the Match: Callum Hudson-Odoi.

How Forest stayed in control of their own destiny

Hudson-Odoi bends home his superb equaliser
Hudson-Odoi bends home his superb equaliser

What a time for Forest to collect their first win in five. How they needed this. This was another punishing afternoon for Sheffield United in the Premier League – but the first half was a captivating watch.

Chris Wilder’s side were deserving of their lead when a poor challenge by Gonzalo Montiel on Brereton Diaz allowed the on-loan striker to dust himself down and convert his spot-kick for his sixth goal of the season.

Team news

  • Jack Robinson was back in the starting Sheffield United line-up as Chris Wilder made just one alteration to the side beaten 5-1 at Newcastle. Mason Holgate made way as he took a place among the substitutes. James McAtee and Rhian Brewster were also on the bench.
  • Nuno Espirito Santo made two changes to the Forest team that started the 2-0 home loss to Manchester City. Gonzalo Montiel replaced the injured Neco Williams, while Ryan Yates returned in place of Moussa Niakhate, who dropped to the bench where he was joined by Taiwo Awoniyi.

The response from Forest was an impressive one as Hudson-Odoi curled in a cracker to restore parity.

Chris Wood slammed a header against the crossbar from Morgan Gibbs-White’s cross but the Blades had the better of the opening 45 minutes.

Cameron Archer missed two glorious chances as first Matz Sels saved at his feet before the striker scuffed a close-range effort into the ground and over the bar.

Brereton Diaz is fouled inside the box by Gonzalo Montiel
Brereton Diaz is fouled inside the box by Gonzalo Montiel

Sheffield United's Ben Brereton Diaz celebrates scoring against Nottingham Forest
Despite not making his debut until late January, no player has scored more Premier League goals for Sheffield United this season than Brereton Diaz (6)

Sels was also at full stretch to deny Gustavo Hamer’s long-range shot while Murillo’s last-ditch challenge denied Brereton Diaz a second.

But, just as in the recent 4-1 home loss to Burnley, Sheffield United were punished for their profligacy – and fell behind just six minutes after the restart.

Yates was in the right place to fire Willy Boly’s knockdown past Wes Foderingham. It survived a VAR appeal with Brereton Diaz claiming he was fouled by Murillo in the build-up.

Matz Sels denies Cameron Archer from close range
Matz Sels denies Cameron Archer from close range

Hamer dragged a shot just wide as United came within inches of an instant response before Hudson-Odoi clipped the outside of the post with a trademark run and shot.

It was a warning the hosts would not heed as in almost the same position not long after, Hudson-Odoi was picked out by Gibbs-White and this time cut inside to find the bottom corner.

By now, the hosts looked a beaten outfit as Wood’s clever flick was tipped around the post by Foderingham from another inviting Gibbs-White delivery. As six minutes of stoppage time had almost elapsed, Ahmedhodzic rose to catch Dominguez with the point of his elbow to compound another miserable afternoon for the Blades.

Forest’s fate is in their own hands with two games remaining.

Callum Hudson-Odoi celebrates scoring Nottingham Forest's third
Hudson-Odoi celebrates scoring Forest’s third

Wilder: We should have been 4-0 up at half time

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Chris Wilder said his Sheffield United side were not strong enough to go up against Nottingham Forest in their 3-1 loss, as well as making poor decisions

Sheff Utd boss Chris Wilder told Sky Sports: “In the first half we were the better team and should have been out of sight. In the second half, we also had chances to put them to bed but quality at the top of the pitch will decide games. The bit in between is important but both boxes will decide games.

“We made elementary mistakes in certain situations. We all know Callum Hudson-Odoi wants to come onto his right peg. If the players love football as much as we do, they’d understand that he has to be sent down the line.

“He punished us. The biggest thing for me is that we should be 4-0 up at half-time and it’s been like that for the last three games. I was scratching my head against Burnley and Newcastle.”

Nuno: Referee didn’t interfere in result

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Nuno Espirito Santo said Forest’s reaction to going a goal down was very pleasing, after they went on to win 3-1 at Sheffield United

Nottingham Forest boss Nuno Espirito Santo told Sky Sports: “The reaction after we conceded was very good. To go in level, it shows the character of the team. It shows the togetherness that we have and the commitment and the desire. It was a good moment.”

On Ben Brereton Diaz’s penalty shout, Nuno added: “I didn’t see the images. I was just expecting the decision. If we concede it I hoped that it was right. But overall, the referee didn’t interfere in the result which is important.

“It is important [for individuals to perform well] but what gives me the confidence that we can succeed is the togetherness of the squad. The way they work and help each other. Football is about the team. We want a team that is organised and compact and works for each other. Looking back at the season, there are so many things to improve.

“It has been very hard for us to manage all the situations. The points deduction, the players that went away to the African Nations Cup, the referees. The only way we can do things is on the pitch. That is the big advantage we have. It is in our hands to achieve the final objective.”

Merson: I’d be shocked now if Forest go down

Yates is mobbed by Anthony Elanga at Bramall Lane
Yates is mobbed by Anthony Elanga at Bramall Lane

Paul Merson on Soccer Saturday:

“I’d be shocked now if Forest went down. Luton need at least four points without Forest getting anything. If Sheffield United had taken their chances today, they could have been three or 4-1 up.

“They didn’t take them which was the story as well against Burnley. They missed chance after chance against Newcastle as well.

“I know it’s Sheffield United, they get beat a lot and they’ve conceded 100 goals but when you’ve only won twice away from home all season, it’s a difficult game still. They came through it well having gone 1-0 down so fair play to them.”

Forest end long wait for away win – Opta stats

Ryan Yates lashes Forest in front in the second half
Ryan Yates netted his first-ever Premier League goal in this game, becoming the ninth different player to score in each of England’s top four tiers since the start of the 2017-18 season

  • Nottingham Forest picked up their first away Premier League victory since a 3-1 win at Newcastle on Boxing Day, ending their seven-game winless run on the road. Indeed, this was just their fourth away league victory since the start of last season (P37 W4 D9 L24).
  • Sheffield United have conceded 100 Premier League goals in 2023-24, the joint-most by a side in a single season in the competition’s history (Swindon also 100 in 42 games in 1993-94), while the last side to concede more in a 38-game top-flight campaign was Leicester City in 1908-09 (102).
  • Sheffield United have failed to win any of their last five Premier League games in which they’ve gone 1-0 up, losing each of their last three in a row (D2), while this was just the third time Nottingham Forest have ever won a Premier League away game having conceded first, also coming from behind to beat Leeds in April 1996 and Newcastle on Boxing Day this season.
  • Sheffield United have been shown five red cards in the Premier League this season, their most in a single league campaign since 2010-11 (12 in the Championship).

Blunt Blades claim unwanted record

Ben Brereton Diaz has six Premier League goals this term
Ben Brereton Diaz has six Premier League goals this term

Sky Sports’ Ben Grounds:

Sheffield United’s horrible campaign hit a new low as Hudson-Odoi’s second was the 100th goal they have conceded, making them the first Premier League team to rack up a century in a 38-game season, with Swindon doing it in 1993-94 over 42 games.

United’s only clean sheet in the league this season came in December’s 1-0 home win over Brentford. The last side to concede more in a 38-game top-flight campaign was Leicester City in 1908-09 (102).

Swindon, who propped up the table in 1993/94, were until now the only team to concede a century of goals in a season since the top flight’s rebranding the year prior to that.

The Blades had already surpassed Derby’s 38-game record of 89 after their 4-2 defeat to Manchester United left them on 92 goals against. A 5-1 hammering by Newcastle confirmed their relegation and took them to 97 before they shipped three at home to Forest.

Sheffield United’s average of 2.78 goals conceded per game is far beyond Swindon’s previous worst of 2.38. And, with two games still to play, away to Everton and at home to Tottenham, the record will surely be broken.

Player of the match – Callum Hudson-Odoi

Nottingham Forest's Callum Hudson-Odoi (left) celebrates after scoring their equaliser
Callum Hudson-Odoi scored twice for Nottingham Forest at Sheffield United

Paul Merson on Soccer Saturday:

“Callum Hudson-Odoi got two very good goals. The thing that disappoints me is that even I know he’s coming back onto his right foot. If I know that, surely Bogle knows he’s going to do it. That disappoints me and as a manager, you’re thinking you’ve worked all week on showing him down the line.

“The first one is an unbelievable finish but he’d done exactly the same thing two minutes before he scored his second. How many times do you have to be told?

“That’s why Sheffield United are where they are and that’s why they’ve let in 100 goals. They don’t take the information on. It’s poor at the highest level.”

Callum Hudson-Odoi celebrates scoring Nottingham Forest's third
Hudson-Odoi punished Sheffield United in similar fashion

Callum Hudson-Odoi told Sky Sports:

“We have still got two more games to go and we are relieved. We played well and bounced back from going down and got the goals we deserved. It is nice to get the goals and help the team but it was more important that I helped the team today.

“I want to help the team and get more goals and assists. Hopefully there are many more to come. When I hit the post I was thinking is it going to go in or not. The more you shoot, the more chance it has of going in. I am happy to help the team.”

What’s next?

Sheffield United visit Everton on Saturday May 11, kick-off 3pm, before playing their last Premier League fixture for at least a season at home to Tottenham on Sunday May 19, kick-off 4pm.

Nottingham Forest continue their survival mission at home to Chelsea on May 11, live on Sky Sports. Kick-off 5.30pm. Forest then travel to relegation rivals Burnley on the final day on May 19, kick-off 4pm.

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